Originally launched in 1965 by Stockton Borough Council and Philip Conroy, Billingham has been a haven of colour and culture for a week long Festival in the Summer to celebrate Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.
Philip Conroy was a Head Teacher who had a passion for Irish Dance and performed one Saturday in the 1960’s in Billingham Town Centre, the performance attracted a large and enthusiastic audience. At the end of this show Mr Conroy mentioned to councillors present that he had just returned from the continent from a week long folklore festival and remarked that Billingham would be an ideal setting for such a festival, so was the Billingham Festival born in 1965.
Each year guests from all over the globe come to participate in the week long festival, held in Billingham Town Centre, a small partially know town in the North East of England. From its beginning in 1965 only Austria, Estonia & Hungary were represented. Now in it’s 55th year the Festival still has its roots in the small town and has hosted around 20000 performers from more than 90 countries, and now hosts 8 groups per year. The Festival has extended its content to include dance in all its variety, from traditional to contemporary, and in later years to include fusion of dance, arts & sports.
Billingham Festival is proud to be one of the Founder Members of the International Organisation CIOFF, and to have the Secretary General as one of its Directors.
Billingham International Folklore Festival is the only Festival of its kind in the UK, and is run completely by a team of volunteers, who give their all to ensure the Festival can be the best it can be. The Billingham Festival is renowned as one of the most prestigious & well known CIOFF festivals in the world.